How to Open DOCX Files

Question

I just got a file from someone with a .docx extension (report.docx). How can I open the file?

Answer

With Office 2007, Microsoft changed the document file format. Older versions of Word save documents as .doc files and Word 2007 saves files with a .docx extension. Unfortunately, Word 2007 files are not compatible with earlier versions, which makes sharing files more complicated.

If you have an earlier version of Word, the easiest thing to do is to download the Microsoft Compatibility Pack from Microsoft’s Web site.

Microsoft suggests that before you download the Compatibility Pack you should get all the High Priority updates and patch your Office installation to the latest service packs.

Once you have installed the Compatibility Pack, you can open, edit, and save files using the new Office 2007 file formats in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007. If you are using older versions of Word, you may want to read the Knowledge Base articles that explain what you can expect with the converters.

Knowledge Base article 924074.

Knowledge Base article 925451

If you don’t have (or don’t want) the Compatibility Pack, there is another sneaky way to open .docx files. The docx format is actually a collection of XML format files that have been zipped together. If you rename the file and change the docx to a zip extension, you can unzip the file using WinZip.

The content of the document is actually located in the filename.xml file, which is viewable in many HTML or document editing programs. You can use the editing program to change the text, then rezip it up with the rest of it’s associated files and then rename it back to its .docx filename.

If you have OpenOffice or StarOffice, you can use the free Open XML Translator from SourceForge to convert .docx Word documents to .odf files and back again.

About Susan Daffron

Susan Daffron is the author the Alpine Grove Romantic Comedies and multiple award-winning nonfiction books, including several about pets and animal rescue. Check out all her books on her Amazon Author page.